Saturday, April 21, 2012

In Which Connor Does Not Like Potties

Today we decided to try another round of potty training with Connor.

A few years ago Connor was dang near completely potty trained, and then a couple of things happened.  The first was that Connor's seizures started and as they worsened he began to regress in a bunch of areas, potty training included.  The second was that Jeremy got himself blown up and Connor was introduced to the utter terror that was Harborview Medical Center's automatic flushing toilets.  Between those two things the kid regressed to the point that being almost potty trained was a distant memory. 

Since then he's shown absolutely no indication that he's ready to be potty trained.  Still, the kid is six years old now, his seizures have currently died down to just a couple of times a week instead of multiple times a day, and he's almost outgrown the diapers we can buy in the grocery store, so we figured we'd try another intensive round this weekend and see if we could make any progress towards getting him in some big boy pants.

Since he wasn't letting me know when he needed to go, I figured putting him on a timed schedule might be the way to go for now, and then we could work on the communicating-when-he-needs-to-go part later.  He doesn't usually go when he has his diaper off, so just before I got him up this morning I set up a plastic-protected area on the couch and set the kitchen timer down in a prominent place on our side table.  The idea was that I'd put him on the potty for ten minutes or so twice an hour until he went, praise him copiously and then rinse and repeat until he was used to that.  Then we'd slowly extend the time between potty breaks until he was on a schedule of every three hours or so or was telling us when he needed to go-- whatever came first.  Since the kid's on a liquid diet, he's more than hydrated enough for this sort of thing.

The first hour and two visits to the potty produced nothing.  About fifteen minutes after his return from his second trip to the potty, he peed on the couch.  I took him back over to his potty and sat him there while Jeremy cleaned up the mess.  Another hour and another two trips to the potty went by with no result.  I sat him back down on the couch and he promptly peed on it again.

We decided to change tactics.

What if we put him on the potty until he peed?  Maybe if we could give him the idea that he was supposed to go on the potty he'd eventually get the hang of it.  I took him back into the bathroom, plopped him down and told him that we'd be staying in there until he peed on the potty.  Connor seemed fine with this.

We read some stories about potties.  We sang some songs about potties.  We did a potty dance, which Connor found immensely entertaining.  In fact Connor seemed to be pretty cool with hanging out on the potty, as long as he didn't have to pee on it.

Three excruciatingly long hours later, Connor finally decided to use the potty for its intended function, and received copious praise as a result.  There was a repetition of the potty dance with additional invented verses, and talk about what a big boy he was and how proud of him I was, which is always a big hit in the Connor camp.  I asked him if he was finished and he said yes, so I took him off the potty, cleaned him up, flushed the toilet and we returned to the living room couch in triumph, where Connor heaved a huge sigh of relief and immediately proceeded to pee all over the couch and floor. 

At that point I threw in the towel and decided potty training was done for the day.

So what did I learn from this glorious exercise, other than the fact that it was a really, really good idea to cover my couch in plastic?  Evidently Connor does have some bladder control, which was somewhat in question at the beginning of this exercise.  The issue seems to be not with whether or not he can control himself enough to pee on the potty, it's whether or not he will pee on the potty.  For whatever reason he seems to have decided that it's okay to pee pretty much anywhere else, but the toilet is strictly off limits.  Perhaps he thinks that it's just waiting to automatically flush underneath him and scare the bejeezus out of him or something.  Who can blame him?  Heck, those toilets scare the bejeezus out of me. 

So tomorrow's plan of attack includes buying one of those little portable potty chairs (provided we can find one that he'll fit on) and seeing if we can get him to pee on that before slowly transitioning it to the bathroom and then on to the toilet.  Unfortunately we'll have to hold him on it rather than him being able to sit in it unassisted like his current toilet chair, which is made specifically for a child with special needs, but we'll do what we need to do because while in some ways Connor continuing to be in diapers would be more convenient for me, I'm much more concerned about what's most dignified and empowering for him. 

So tomorrow I'll be potty shopping, and also buying more plastic for my couch.  I have a feeling I'll need it.



Kristina said...

Sounds like you have the potty training plan under control. We are potty training with Emma and she usually goes when we put her on it, but sometimes she also goes in her diaper between sessions on the potty. She doesn't yet communicate when she has to go so that is the main hurdle we are up against.

We have the Rifton Blue Wave potty chair. Is that the one you have? It has a bin that you can put under the seat so the child can go potty without having it over the toilet and you just clean out the bin. We started that way with Emma and now have it over the toilet and I think it really helped! She also uses the same potty at school and rarely ever has a wet diaper there - she uses it twice each day during her 2.5 hour school day.

Good luck!

Julia O'C said...

Oh, goodness, you make me laugh. I'm so incredibly grateful for friendship - you have no idea.

Anonymous said...

At least it wasn't cat pee

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, you are the best blogger on the Internet. I often read and almost never comment, but please know that you provide wonderful laughs and continual inspiration. Thank you for this blog!!!!!

Jess said...

Yes, Kristina, we have the Rifton Blue Wave, and it would be absolutely fantastic if he would actually use the darn thing. We don't have the bin for it though-- we've just got the part you attach directly to the toilet. The next time we head to Connor's GI doc we may see about getting the attachment if we're still having issues.

Julia and Annie, you rock.

Anonymous, I'm having enough trouble potty training Connor-- I'm not about to start toilet training the cats. They can continue to use their litter box, which seems to work out okay for all parties involved. While it can be done, it's really hard to teach the cats to flush. Though at least they don't leave the seat up all the time, so that's something.

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